Here is lies on a clump of woad leaves, demonstrating the colour BLUE.
In case anyone had forgotten what blue looks like.
You may remember that I was growing woad, discovered it was a "noxious weed" and dug it up before it took over the planet? Ah well, I was not quite fast enough with the spade and it self-seeded, producing 5 juicy clumps of leaf.
So I thought I should continue with Plan A and harvest it for its dye.
First pick your leaves, tear them, simmer for ten minutes, squeeze out the goodness (discarding the pulp into the compost heap) then whisk briskly with soda ash until a thick blue foam develops. Allow to settle. So far so good.
But then, you have to separate the blue sediment from the 10 litres of opaque green liquid, decant into clear glass jars, allow to settle again and rinse repeatedly until the water is clear and the indigo is left at the bottom of the jars.
Only after that do you have the joy of brewing the pigment with 5 litres of (ahem!) stale urine... for two weeks! Needless to say, I have two male volunteers who want to help me dye my yarn. Sigh. Boys eh?
But I seem to be stuck at the "opaque green liquid in glass jars" phase. Perhaps my whisking was not brisk enough?
However, I had two batches. So I experimented with the second. I tried brewing some Hipknits handspun in the pot, then plunging it into cold water. Nothing much happened. Tried adding Bicarbonate of Soda (not sure why) and nope, nothing much happened! So I tried adding vinegar to the water - MUCH more exciting - the wool turned mauve!
However, after a gentle wash and wind-drying, the skein is just a warm purplish beige. Not exactly the dark indigo blue my Pictish ancestors might have expected.
So my volunteers are lining up to pee in the pot. I am beginning to regret this. I think I may move the vat into the Bothy as I imagine it will be somewhat... fragrant. Naturally hand-dyed yarn anyone?